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Audi Q3

£26,095£36,045
7/10
Overall verdict

For: 

The engines are lovely and so is the cabin

Against: 

It's a bit predictable and feels surprisingly bigger than it actually is
It might look car-like, but it’s not car-like enough to drive. It’s competent, but doesn’t shine.

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Our choice

Audi

2.0 TDI [184] Quattro SE 5dr S Tronic

£31,445
N/A
54mpg
7.90s
184bhp
136g/km

What we say: 

Audi's posh crossover has great engines and a lovely cabin, but it's all rather predictable

What is it?

Audi has cleaved open another gap in its mega portfolio to create the slightly predictable Q3. It’s a posh crossover that’s bigger and taller than the A3 but – despite appearances – not quite as full-figured as the Q5. So it’s a smallish hatchback jacked-up to look like an SUV, while still looking like a hatchback. It’s designed mostly for tarmac, but the raised ride height and optional four-wheel-drive will do a decent job of treading over a relatively rough track.

It was facelifted early last year, earning it a bolder front end that looks not unlike the big Q7. Engines were tweaked and a 1.4 TFSI introduced. 

Driving

The hatchback-ish looks disguise a surprisingly large stature. You have to post it carefully through tighter streets, it’s not as parkable as something A3-sized and the added suspension height means it feels a bit clumpy over urban obstacles. It’s more pleasant around a corner, although the electric power steering removes some of the sensation between your hands and the front wheels. At least excess flab is avoided thanks to aluminium body and suspension parts, and you can opt for adaptive dampers for improved corner huggery, though if you’re looking for razor dynamics, you’re looking in the wrong place.

There’s a lovely array of engines, starting with the 140bhp 1.4-litre petrol with FWD, but most people will, and should, upgrade to the quieter and more effortless diesels. Both 150bhp and our choice 184bhp versions are much improved over early Q3s. The hot choice is a 2.5-litre turbo five-pot with up to 367bhp. It’s hillarious and weirdly one of the best cars to wear the RS badge. We’d stick with the diesel, though.

On the inside

It’s another boringly decent identikit Audi in here. The layout is smart yet functional and there’s almost as much space as the bigger Q5 (the Q3’s engine is mounted across the engine bay, whereas the Q5’s goes lengthways, which is less space-efficient).

All models get climate control, plus a proper phone and iPod interface. There’s a comms and entertainment screen, which also displays the sat nav if you’ve ticked that box. However, there’s a ‘gagged’ GPS built in to less pricey versions, which can be unblocked after purchase for instant conversion to a nav-equipped car.

Owning

It’s an Audi, so it ain’t cheap, but there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises. Be careful with the options list to avoid losing big chunks of your investment when it’s time to sell – best go with a low-to-medium level of goodies. Don’t be tempted by the S line chassis – it’s too hard. If you must treat yourself, go for the LED interior light pack to turn the cabin into the lobby of a boutique hotel. The 184bhp diesel hits the sweet spot between performance and affordable running costs, with 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
2.0 TDI [184] Quattro Black Edition 5dr
7.9s 146g/km 50.4 184 £35,165
The cheapest
1.4T FSI SE 5dr
9.2s 127g/km 51.4 150 £26,095
The greenest
2.0 TDI SE 5dr
9.6s 117g/km 62.8 150 £27,635

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

7/10

Volvo XC60

£31,605£41,190
An XC60 feels big, mostly because it is. Usefully more family friendly than the Q3...